Eddie Jones insists his Japan side are fitter than Scotland – and warned Vern Cotter his team are ready to run the Dark Blues “off their feet”.
The confident Brave Blossoms boss turned to mind-games ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup duel at Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium.
The Asian champions have become the darlings of the tournament since sucker-punching two-time former winners South Africa in Brighton on Saturday.
That incredible Pool B opener has already been described as the biggest upset in rugby history, but Jones wants his team to prove their Springboks slaying was no fluke.
And despite having had just four days’ rest, the former Australia boss insists his team will have the legs on Scotland.
Jones – who has made six changes to his stating XV – said: “If you look at Scotland’s scoring profile they are very heavily a first-half scoring team. They get outscored consistently in the second half. We know we are a fit team so if we can stick with them in the first 30 minutes and we are in the game at half-time, we will run them off their feet.
“Are we fitter? Definitely. Definitely.”
Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor met the media two hours before Jones and insisted his side were not feeling the pressure – despite neutrals around the world willing the Japanese to claim another notable scalp.
But Jones had a different assessment.
He said: “There is a great American coach who said, ’Pressure is what you feel when you don’t know what you are doing’. So while we are nervous about the game we don’t feel any pressure.
“Last Saturday’s game showed that maybe the order of world rugby can change. Scotland is one of the most established rugby countries in the world. Sevens started in Scotland, so for Japan to challenge Scotland, where they are in world rugby, puts significant pressure on Scotland.
“All the pressure is on Scotland. We can go in there free and easy, play our rugby, enjoy the rugby and that’s what we intend to do. If we are good enough we’ll win it, if we’re not good enough we won’t.
“We don’t have any fears. We knew it was a four-day turnaround so we’ll go into the game as well as we can and give it our best shot.”
After beating the Boks, Japan have leapfrogged the Scots in the World Rugby rankings, climbing to 11th.
Now Jones has told his men they now have the chance to justify that position when they run out at Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium.
“Are we favourites? Well if you read most of the papers we’re not,” said Jones, who revealed on Monday he will quit his post following the tournament, moving to South Africa after agreeing a deal with the Cape Town-based Stormers.
“People still think it was a fluke that we beat South Africa, so this is a great chance for us to show it wasn’t and really front up as a serious rugby nation.
“Scotland are coming into it with perfect preparation. They have had two and a half weeks since their last game.
“They will come in absolutely 100 per cent. We’re coming in off a four-day turnaround so it’s a really great chance to show we’re a serious rugby nation. Whether that makes us favourites or not, I’m not sure.”
Dozens of Japanese journalists have descended on Gloucester, while reporters from other far flung spots have followed in the hope that lightning will strike twice for the World Cup shock troops.
But Jones thinks his side will be able to call on the support of the local population on Wednesday.
“Gloucester is one of the great spiritual homes of rugby,” he said. “People in Gloucester know their rugby, so hopefully we’ll get a lot of support from the local crowd.
“They normally wear red and white, so they can wear red and white (on Wednesday) and support us. And we know the English don’t like the Scottish, so that’s another bonus for us.”